What is Tui-na?

tuina script

Tui-na: The Art of Healing

by Jesse Larson


Tui na, pronounced twee-na, is Chinese therapeutic bodywork and massage. It is a main aspect of Chinese medicine, meaning that tui na is not just a relaxing massage, but its purpose is to heal the body, mind and spirit with the hands. For example,  I have had great success with people who have frozen shoulders. I also have uncovered trauma that people have forgotten or do not realize is the source of their problem. Tuina is real medicine.

The ancient daoist term for the art of healing is called tui na. This means the pushing and pulling away of dysfunction which is accomplished by the stimulation of energetic points and meridians through acupressure, the balancing of yin and yang, and the promotion of the flow of chi and blood. The purpose of tui na is to move energy-chi. Those I work on feel energized and lighter because their chi is flowing properly throughout their bodies, their minds are calmer and clearer, and they are more connected to their spirits.

According to the Yellow Emporer of China over 5,000 years ago, tui na is the oldest of all healing techniques. There is evidence that tui na was practiced over 13,000 years ago. The ancient daoists observed that when people are in pain, they instinctively grasp themselves where they hurt. This became the basis for tui na, in turn developing into many healing manipulations. I personally witness this same instinctive phenomenon. When people describe their pain or are asked what is bothering them, quite often they touch the area of pain unconsciously.

This practice is not to be confused with Swedish or western types of massage. Swedish massage has its origins in tui na which was brought from China by early Jesuit missionaries. Often my clients want a hands-on therapy that is more stimulating than a relaxing massage. Tui na might be closer to shiatsu because shiatsu originated from tui na as well several hundred years ago.

This practice is a holistic, whole family treatment. Tui na can be used to safely treat infants, children, adults, men and women, pregnant women, and the elderly.

What makes my practice unique is the way I combine the energetic healing of chi gong with a hands-on approach to Chinese Medicine theories. Using all my senses, including extra-sensory perception, I can detect the different energies of the body, quite often associated with emotions in diagnosing dysfunction. Through the use of my hands, I am more personally involved and connected to those I treat and thus able to effect deeper healing.


I regularly use our own arnica salve while performing tuina to help in the healing process. It is really good for sore muscles. Available for sale at FreyjasMagic.etsy.com.

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